Heidi's still in the cold, but people with warm hearts are helping out

The nights have been cold in Nevada, and that has brought to mind Heidi Manfroi. Heidi is a wheelchair-bound Carson City woman who lives in a dilapidated trailer. She has no shower or bath and her only source of heat last winter was a space heater she used in a portion of the trailer she had cordoned off with black plastic.

Despite those conditions, Heidi is proud to be self sufficient in her home and has refused offers to help her move to a care facility.

Since I first wrote about her in August, some people have stepped forward to do what they can to help her. Among them is Janice Ayres, the executive director of RSVP, who gave me an update this week.

The sad part of the story thus far is that Heidi still lives in the trailer with no source of heat other than a space heater. A total of just over $3,000 has been raised to help her. That money is helping buy the materials necessary to make the trailer livable, but it won't be nearly enough to complete the job.

"It's been a real struggle," Ayres said.

The best news is that Rich de Braga has entered the picture.

de Braga, of Moundhouse, was laid off recently from his job as superintendent at a national home builder in Reno. That's certainly not good news, but it has given him an opportunity to help Heidi, whom he met from a friend who had been attempting to help her out but didn't have the carpentry skills to begin repairing the old trailer.

Ayres was thrilled when he showed up to begin the work. "God must have been listening to me praying," she said.

It's a huge job, he admits, since the trailer had been essentially gutted before Heidi moved in. Some people had done work thereafter, but some of it wasn't done properly and now needs to be redone.

"It's got to be rebuilt," he said. And that includes framing walls, insulating and drywalling. He's already redone much of the electrical work.

"When I got there she was running her wheelchair over live wire on the floor," he said.

Now the priorities are heat, hot water and a place to bathe.

"She's bathing in a wash pan now, in cold water," he said.

de Braga knows the financial contributions won't be nearly enough to pay for all of the materials he'll need, so he's been asking his friends in the industry for donations of materials. Some have stepped forward, but the same tough economy that led to his layoff has made it difficult for people and companies to make contributions.

He welcomes all donations, but materials most urgently needed include an ADA accessible shower stall, sheetrock, insulation, lumber, plumbing fixtures, light-colored wood paneling for the ceilings and vinyl or wood flooring.

And he would welcome some help with all that work.

If you're interested in helping financially, an account has been set up at the First National Bank of Nevada, 1101 N. Carson St., in Carson City, 89701. The account number is 16504831.

You can also reach Janice Ayres at the RSVP offices by calling 687-4680.

If you have building materials to donate or have time to help de Braga with the construction, call him at 291-2023.


Janice mentioned something else that was quite interesting - that she believes volunteers from RSVP might be able to help the state through these trying economic times by filling in for some of the jobs that were frozen recently by the governor's order.

The only thing holding up the process, she says, is they can't seem to get an audience with the governor, although it's not for lack of trying.


I often seen Carson City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ronni Hannaman at meetings and functions around town, but the last place I expected to see her on Sunday was along the side of the road picking up garbage. I was driving down Roop Street near Northridge when I saw two people cleaning up the trash, but I wasn't certain it was Ronni until I reached her on Monday. It wasn't an organized cleanup effort, she said, just something she and her husband, John, do on occasion.

"Someone has to do it and we are those someones," she wrote in an e-mail.

She said they could only look at those shopping bags stuck in the brush for so long, "and then I get to the point where I have to do something about it."

"By the way, it's good exercise - I feel it today. ... So, not only do we have a cleaner environment, we have a more toned body!"

Now, Ronni had no idea I intended to mention it in this column, but there was no way I was going to let a good example like this pass me by. There are just too many people who say "someone ought to do something about that." It's refreshing to see the people who actually do something.

I realize there are many more people in our community who also quietly make these kinds of small contributions with no intention of gaining any praise or notoriety. I respect that greatly, but on the other hand, those people are inspiring examples to others and it would be a shame to let them pass without mention.

That's why I'm encouraging you to bring them to my attention so I can mention them in this column. If you know someone who's making a difference in our community, no matter how seemingly small the contribution, please give me a call or drop me an e-mail.

• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. You can reach him at 881-1221 or at bginter@nevadaappeal.com.


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